The futures markets suggest much water has flown under the bridge since Prompt Return proved himself the best performed of the spring two-year-olds.
Prompt Return won twice in the spring, including a $21 win in the Maribyrnong Plate, before a shock defeat in the reverse-way Magic Millions race at Ballarat.
Prompt Return is the $3 favourite for his return race at Sandown on Saturday yet is a $15 chance in markets for the Blue Diamond Stakes.
Thurlow, the second favourite at Sandown, is a $51 chance for the Diamond.
This all suggests that whatever grip Prompt Return had on his top two-year-old rating has been loosened by youngsters that have shone in his absence, including Blue Diamond favourites Fontiton and Secret Agenda.
Trainer Danny O’Brien says monitoring the form isn’t really his strength, but monitoring his horses is. O’Brien said his measure of Prompt Return was not the betting markets but what he sees on the track.
O’Brien has trained a handful of top two-year-olds in recent years, including Diamond winner Star Witness, Shamus Award — fifth in the Diamond, second in the Sires, and later won a Cox Plate — and Shamexpress, who ran fifth in the Sires before winning a Newmarket Handicap.
“At the same stage of his career I’d say he’s better than all three of those colts — he’s certainly done more at the same stage,’’ O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he was confident his private “measures’’ accurately had Prompt Return as a leading contender for the Diamond.
“I guess because I’ve had some really nice colts I’ve got an idea about how to rate them,’’ he said.
“And the same track riders have been on most of them, both at Flemington and Barwon Heads, and the message I’m getting from them is that he is absolutely top class.’’
O’Brien said Prompt Return was a better horse now than when he dashed clear of Old Trieste and Sailing By in the Maribyrnong.
Old Trieste went on to run fourth in the Millions race at Ballarat before two unplaced runs in Queensland, and Sailing By has not raced since.
“I was really happy with what he did in the spring but everything since has been fantastic,’’ he said. “He had a brilliant summer, his two jumpouts have been excellent, he’s really grown and strengthened — I’d say he’s 20 kilograms heavier.’’
O’Brien said Prompt Return had not been fully tested in his build-up to the Chairman’s Stakes.
“He’s not had an extended gallop, nothing more than 85 or 90 per cent — we save that for race day,’’ he said.
News by Matt Stewart Herald Sun.